In other words, not only is South Florida losing its educated young professionals, it may be losing the best and the brightest.
People that Ive worked with, that are geniuses, are gone, said Thompson, who is gearing up for his relocation to Los Angeles. Thats why I call it a brain drain because smart people are leaving.
Miami-Dade also finished last in its share of college-educated residents when compared with 15 similar metro areas, according to the Beacon Council-commissioned study.
Seattle, Denver, Houston, Dallas and Austin are the top five metro areas gaining residents in the 25-34 year-old demographic, in contrast to South Florida.
Those top cities have the right combination of the three Ts, says Richard Florida, an American urban studies theorist and Professor at the Rotman School of Management in the University of Toronto. He defines those as talent, tolerance and technology qualities, he says, that are imperative in attracting the kind of people that will help build a better economy.
Miami does very well on diversity, amenity and lifestyle, but it doesnt have the tech economy or business base to create the kind of job activity that will draw or retain young people, said Florida, who resides in Miami Beach half the year.
Not all the young professionals who move out of Miami, however, are finding success.
Lke most of the young migrants the Herald spoke to, Alex Montalvo, 33, had countless other reasons for leaving Miami for Seattle two months ago. Chief among them: sense of community.
South Florida doesnt offer much for the middle class. The nightlife, the eating options, the maneuverability, all favor the wealthy, Montalvo said in response to a query from the Herald. Its a fun place, but becoming too expensive and with a lack of a vibrant middle class.
But hes having difficulty finding a suitable position.
In Miami, where he worked for seven years, he helped develop community environmental education programs for the City of Miami; at various times, he was interim executive director and program director.
Now hes applying for less-senior positions at nonprofit organizations in Seattle. But hes not getting any callbacks.
I feel like Miami in some ways didnt prepare me enough for a workplace outside of Miami, he said. Maybe I didnt have the right professional development. Im asking myself those questions now.
South Florida had the nations second-highest rate of income inequality from 2005-2009, according to another report issued in October by the Census Bureaus American Community Survey. This income chasm is among the reasons Liana Minassian, 25, is leaving for Los Angeles on Jan. 14.
After graduating from the University of Miami, she had hoped to settle in Coral Gables but is finding it hard to fit in.
The majority of my friends have left, said Minassian, who grew up in Pembroke Pines, and now works as a secretary at the UM Humanities Center. It kind of confirms what I already think: that no one really wants to stay here.
Despite the statistics, Richard Florida said things are looking up.
South Florida is in the early stages of transitioning from a tourism to a quality of life city, he said. It was becoming a place in which people want to live, he added.
The housing market implosion is helping, he says. Because of the depressed housing market, more young people and families and fewer wealthy snowbirds are moving into the downtown areas.
That creates an active vibrant environment that is likely to serve the city and region well in the future, he said.
Florida also pointed to the budding art communities in Miamis Wynwood and downtown areas as a step in the right direction, but he thinks allowing proposed casinos in these areas would undo a lot of the progress.
The casino is a step backward from where a great, vibrant, locally rooted, diverse community should be going, he said.
Minassian is pleased with the urban growth in the Wynwood and downtown neighborhoods but says they arent yet thriving enough to keep her around.
I just hope that the people who do like it enough to stay will have a hand in helping to make it so people dont always leave.
This article includes comments from members of HeraldSource, part of the Public Insight Network. To learn more about the network or to join, visit MiamiHerald.com/insight.